“Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword?” – The Sequel

In our posting, “Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword?” I pointed out that Jesus’ words were “Take” or “draw” the sword, a one-time act, not “live by the sword,” indicating a lifestyle. He was speaking of the particular circumstance he and his disciples were in at the moment, not pronouncing a truism for all time and all people.

Someone has pointed out to me, however, that there is a similar statement in Genesis.

Gen. 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

This is part of God’s pronouncement to Noah shortly after he came out of the ark. God told Noah, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” (Genesis 9:3) but God went on to say there would be a penalty for anyone who killed a man, namely, what we just read above.

The problem I have is like with our discussion on “live by the sword, die by the sword.” What on the surface it seems to be saying is simply not always true. There are plenty of unsolved murder cases and parts of the world where the death penalty is never carried out for murder.

The “Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament” (a rather impressive 10-volume set) has some interesting comments. The authors point out that the pronouncement is not that God will exact judgment, but rather that man will do so. The statement serves, therefore, not as revealing what God will bring to pass, but rather what God is telling men to do. Kill animals for your food, but don’t kill people. If you do, then you are deserving of other men killing you.

If you have a better explanation, let me know.

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